So You Killed Your Cat. Now What?

pet grave headstone“Do you think we should tell the kids what really happened? What they don’t know won’t hurt them, right?”

Recently we received these questions when a parent accidentally ran over the sleeping, aging old family cat. What would you say if they asked you?

I’m wondering if you can help me with an immediate issue. Our dear friends have a 10 year old son & 8 year old daughter. They also had a 14 year old beloved cat until this morning – One of the parents accidentally ran over Ginger (she was sleeping under the car) this morning while leaving for work. The children were asleep so did not see any of this.

One parent thinks they should not ever tell the children that they ran over the cat, and that it died of natural causes. The other parent is conflicted about not being open, but also doesn’t want to lay this on the children. What would you recommend in this situation? As of now, the children know the cat died, but nothing about the accident.

Jim’s Real-life Parenting “Do-Over” — See It Live!

As some of you know, Lynne and I provided a home for a single mom and her baby boy for his first three and a half years.

As you might imagine in that setting, we had numerous learning opportunities with this strong-willed little fella. On one such occasion I caught my two-year-old little buddy in my emerging garden. I was surprised and yelled at him to “get out!” (Yes, I still yell without thinking sometimes too!) Then I realized I had a Flipcam in my pocket and I taped a little experiment. You can watch it below — pay close attention to Eli’s change in attitude as I go from stern and demanding to gentle and inviting him with choices.

How to Help Kids Follow Family Rules

When it comes to family rules, a common mistake parents make is to not clearly define the rules!

What is acceptable and what is not in a family can be a moving target depending on the whims of a parent’s mood, fatigue, or even their indigestion. One day shoes scattered in the entryway are ignored or simply kicked aside, and the next day it is a cardinal offense when a stressed parent trips over them. “You know better than to leave these here!” This inconsistency is a classic way that parents exasperate their children (See Ephesians 6:4).

How to Make Sure Your Kids Will Want to Stay

This concludes our series, “Discipline That Connects®: Four Powerful Messages All Kids Long to Hear”.

DTC blog title slide“…he will turn the hearts of the parents to their children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous” Luke 1:17

What if the way you disciplined your kids had the power to turn their hearts toward or away from the safety of your love, your home, and even God? We think it does. Our conclusion comes from extensive work with kids since 1985.

When kids steal, disobey, defy, cheat, lash out, or otherwise sin, in their hearts, they leave. They leave the safety of trustworthy relationships. They leave the safety of boundaries and limits placed for their protection. They leave the purposes for which God created them. These are acts of rebellion. All kids do this. All humans do this.

The way we are treated when we sin determines whether or not we’ll feel safe to return to the protection of the relationships, the love, the boundaries, and the purposes of God for our lives. In our years working in youth groups with other people’s kids we sometimes learned this the hard way. Many of the unchurched kids we were hoping to reach would quit coming after they were caught doing something they shouldn’t do – and disciplined. Especially if the discipline was reactive or shaming, we could pretty much guarantee that unless a strong relationship of grace was in place, we’d never see those kids again.

Do Your Consequences Build Up or Tear Down?

Sometimes, in spite of parents’ most graceful efforts to stay calm, connect well, and parent with grace, their kids still misbehave. They are “beloved sinners” (just like us) and need corrective guidance (just like we do), with the goal of helping them learn the powerful message, “You are responsible for your life, your relationships, and your decisions.”

Two Biblical principles can help parents communicate this message to their children: natural impacts and imposed consequences.

Four Powerful Messages All Kids Long to Hear

Every parent wants their child to choose good, right behavior. Every family consists of real, mistake-prone people. No one is perfect. How do we teach our children to learn from their mistakes and help them grow up well? Discipline often consists of merely correcting wrong behavior when it should also enable inward, heart transformation. In order to discipline wisely, we must make grace our central principle. The Connected Families framework arises out of the need for effective correction and centers around grace.  Read on to learn the four powerful messages that parents have the opportunity to communicate to their children when disciplining them in order to guide them effectively.

Four Powerful Messages

We begin by asking the question: How do we help our kids grow into the adults God is calling them to be?

Here are four powerful messages that parents can focus on as Biblical goals when discipline challenges hit the fan. When kids grow to believe these messages are true, their hearts are much more open to their parents’ teaching and discipline.

Is There Harm in Convincing Kids Santa Is Real?

Note: For some of our readers this post may touch a nerve. Please know we write in a spirit of deeply wanting to see the story of Jesus magnified far above all other stories – fueled by recent days of hearing story after story of heartache from good parents whose teens are walking away from faith. We don’t blame Santa alone, but we can’t help but see the effect of popular culture as a primary lure away from faith.

For centuries societies have played out the Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and tooth fairy stories. Now there’s even an Elf on the shelf to add to the Santa story. Santa Claus stuck in a chimney.For many families, these stories we tell our children are treated as an innocent but integral part of the holiday traditions in our families.

But is this telling of tall tales really good for our kids?

We live in a day and age where lying and manipulation is popularized and accepted in pop culture, where rapidly growing numbers of people are boldly professing faith in nothing at all, and kids growing up in church homes are leaving the church in unprecedented numbers.

Yes, there are people who have been raised to believe in Santa who now believe in Jesus. Yes, many people’s belief in Santa has been gently discarded and assimilated into a healthy worldview. But as researchers reveal that 60% or more of kids raised in church homes are growing up and leaving the faith they were raised in, we think it’s time to be more thoughtful and passionately accurate about how we tell the Christmas story. 

Do YOU Respect Authority?

This Election Day, there’s bound to be a candidate elected that you would rather not see take office. Or maybe an amendment that doesn’t go your way. The way parents respond when this happen speaks volumes to their kids!

If we humble ourselves and pray (see 2 Chron 7:14), God’s grace will rule our homes. But if we respond to the election by griping about the incompetent people who are going to ruin our country for the next four years, we model a basic (and contagious) disrespect for authority. This is similar to parents who complain about their boss at the dinner table, criticize their spouse’s cooking, and then expect their kids to quickly obey at bedtime, saying “Yes, Sir/Ma’am, I’m on my way!”

Our children are watching! And learning!

How to Have Positive Politics in Your Home

On Tuesday we talked about the importance of practicing what you preach at home.

Practically speaking, if you want your kids to learn respect and responsibility, you need to set the stage for it at home. Here’s an idea for developing great “politics” in your home:

  • Discuss with your family and write down some of the most important values in your home. (Examples of values include faith, duty, learning, authenticity, self-control, generosity, etc.)
  • Once the list is complete, ask your children how well they think you (the parent) live by these values and follow these rules.
  • Write down one rule for each value. For example, if the value is respect, your rule might read: “People will use respectful voices when we are upset. People will take ‘time outs’ until they can use respectful tones (parents included!)”
  • Discuss and decide what the consequences for breaking each rule will be.  

Enjoy this activity, and join us in praying that more and more leaders would emerge from homes that practice politics this way.

The Politics of Respect — In Our Homes!

Republican, or Democrat? Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama? With pre-election hype now at fever-pitch a week before the polls, it is easy to get either fed-up or worked-up with politics! Being an informed voter is certainly important, but we think the most important politics for a parent to engage in are the politics of their own home.

As candidates push their political agendas and make campaign promises of policy goals for the years to come, take a moment to reflect on the “politics” in your family. What goals do you have for raising your children?  It is important to consider not only what “policies” will guide your family in the years to come, but also how you will teach them to your children.